02.19.2014 by Andrea
Holy cow, I’m in India. It’s certainly fascinating, to say the least, to be in such a colorful and intriguing place. My head hasn’t quit rotating back and forth as there is so much to take in! I have to be honest, there are several places on my bucket list to travel and I can’t say that India was where I was immediately planning on jumping in and tackling in the next few years. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and apologies in advance to those of you who have already visited India. Skip a few posts and in a few weeks I’ll be back to my blogging about my normal fare. I have a feeling I may get bogged down in too many details.
Today is day 7 of 15 for the tour. Heads have not rolled and the group chemistry is on point. We are currently departing Bandhavgarh National Reserve and our hopes of tiger sightings were dashed on our safari tours. Don’t worry, I’ve watched Blackfish, have integrated my issues with orcas in captivity into every conversation possible recently [to prove I’m hip and relevant with documentaries] and there were no kept tigers on our jeep ride. Our tour guide hasn’t seen any of these sleek cats while traversing the jungle floor. But our fingers were crossed there would be a quick peek. I’ve been amazed at all that has been stuffed into a relatively short amount of time.
I managed to escape Atlanta as one of the last handful of flights departing late last Tuesday evening. The city and airport were shutting down in preparation for Ice Storm Twenty-Fourteen. From Atlanta to Dubai and then a quick hop to New Delhi. It was rather cold and rainy in upon arrival but our group weathered it all and visited Old Delhi. I sampled paranthas at one of the oldest operating restaurants.
Delicious and belly warming. Only one night in Delhi and then it was onto an overnight train to Varnasi.
My friend JB raved about Varanasi when I asked him about India trip highlights. I took it with a grain of salt, and wondered how fabulous could it be? Much like every leg of this trip, thus far, it exceeded all my expectations. As one of the oldest living cities along the sea, it’s gorgeous. The weather was a bit foggy and damp, so I can only imagine what it looks like bright and freshly scrubbed glistening in the sun. Our group partook in visiting a silk shop, learning the intricacies of spotting real and faux silk and the differences between pashminas and cashmeres.
At sunset we gathered on a boat for the daily flower and candle ceremony and listened as local musicians played music. Much akin to how the paper lanterns look as they float in the air, the candles and flowers are released in their own biodegradable container and are a sight to behold as they float away.
Don’t judge [or judge away], but for supper that night I ate pizza. I took the typhoid and hepatitis a/b combination vaccinations prior to departing but I have been fearful of the famed Delhi Belly. We all ate a pizzeria, I could have opted for traditional Indian fare but we had a river cruise the next day with no readily available facilities other than the back of the boat. Adventurous Indian food consumption is able to commence after today when traveling by rail, boat, or land seems a bit easier.
Speaking of the river. Sleeping in a pup tent on the banks of the Ganges [Ganga] River has to rate in my top five places to slumber and wake. The moon was brilliant and the sunrise even more magnificent. Sand may not be the most forgiving surface to sleep but it certainly was more than compensated for by the cuisine served, company kept, and amazing experience. Between the pickup game of cricket and Bollywood dance moves I can’t think of a better place to have been. Our travel group is comprised of Aussie couples, Canadian gals, Brits, Austrians, a Belgium gal, our tour leader and myself. We have chuckled our way through our tour and sometimes it feels almost campy, as if we are on a zany family vacation.
Sounds like our train is running on IST, Indian Standard Time, and what was a 2 delay just became an 8 hour one. We will be hopping into a car shortly. I think I’ve used nearly every form of local transport on this trip. Not sure when I will be able to pen another post, hopefully in the next couple of days. I’m bubbling over with so much more I wish to share and attempt to convey. I try to upload pictures on Instagram when wifi is available for a fleeting second.
Until the next bite, namaste.